A recent study finds that the use of vitamin D supplements does not decrease the painful symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The results of the study were published in the European Journal of Nutrition, and Williams et al aimed to assess whether vitamin D supplementation improved IBS symptoms.

The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Participants were recruited from the community between December 2017 and March 2019 and involved 135 participants who received either vitamin D (3,000 IU per day) or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary outcome measure was a change in IBS symptom severity; secondary outcomes included change in IBS-related quality of life.

The researchers found that participants were evaluated on an intent-to-treat basis, and 60% of participants were vitamin D deficient or insufficient at baseline. They concluded that despite an improvement in vitamin D status in the participants in response to a vitamin D3 oral spray over a 12-week trial, there was no difference to their IBS symptom severity over the same period, nor a reported change in participants' quality of life. The authors noted that the study is the largest and most definitive study to date exhibiting clearly that vitamin D supplementation does not ease severe IBS symptoms.

In a news release, Dr. Liz Williams, study coauthor, senior lecturer in human nutrition, University of Sheffield, stated, "There has been interest from researchers and from patient groups in the potential of high dose vitamin D to alleviate symptoms of IBS, but there haven't been many properly controlled trials in this area. What our research shows is that supplementing vitamin D at a safe dose did not reduce the severity of IBS symptoms. It is worth noting, however, that the vitamin D supplementation did correct deficiencies in those individuals who were found to have poor vitamin D status, and this is important for other aspects such as bone and muscle health."

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